CLEAN AND SOBER, 1988
Starring: Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman, Tate Donovan, Henry Judd Baker, Claudia Christian, J. David Krassner, and Dakin Matthews
In 30 days in the life of a man struggle with addiction to the road of sobriety.
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Daryl Poynter (Michael Keaton) is a successful real estate agent in the Philadelphia area. Although on the surface things seem to be going well, we quickly find out that Daryl is addicted to cocaine. In hopes to fuel his addiction, Daryl embezzles $92,000 from his company from and escrow account and shortly after is left without nothing after making poor decisions in the stock market. Still Daryl was yet to hit rock bottom, that was until one morning when he woke up to a dead girl lying next to him. She had suffered a heart attack from a drug overdose, this is when Daryl has realized his life had spun out of control.
In an attempt to evade the authorities, Daryl checks himself into a drug rehabilitation program. It is here that Daryl is introduced to Craig (Morgan Freeman), a counselor at the clinic, a tough but supportive man who has little patience for lying but is ready to help anyway he can for those who are ready to be helped.
After much convincing, Craig is able to show Daryl the complete and utter chaos his life has become. Craig then pairs Daryl up with a fellow addict, Richard Dirks (M. Emmett Walsh) who acts as his sponsor. Richard, only with the best of intentions, eventually encourages Daryl to confess at his work that he had taken the money and eventually lost it, in order to work out some demons. This action causes Daryl to be immediately fired.
It is during this time at the clinic that Daryl becomes attracted to one of the fellow patients, a woman named Charlie Standers (Kathy Baker). She works in a steel factory and is also addicted to cocaine. After some brief interaction, Daryl finds out that Charlie is involved in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Lenny (Luca Bercovici), a fellow addict to whom Charlie is codependent on.
It isn’t long however that Daryl falls in love with Charlie and begs her to leave Lenny, which is eventually does, only to see her be manipulated by Lenny to win her back. Daryl refuses to give up by staying in Charlie’s life as a sort of sponsor. However, after another fight with Lenny, Charlie storms out of the house and gets into a car. While she is driving, she is attempting to use cocaine, she loses control and is killed in a car accident.
In a bitter depression upon hearing of Charlie’s demise, Daryl feels a strong temptation to go back to drug, but summons the will power to call his sponsor, Richard, who is able to talk Daryl down from it. The film ends with Daryl accepting his 30 Day Sobriety Chip, this is the loneliest he has ever been but has accepted his path to stay clean and sober.
With a solid cast behind him and a good story, Michael Keaton is able to shine in this film. Even though his character is a liar, manipulative, and can be down right nasty, you find yourself rooting for him most of the way through and by the time you get to the end you are hurting as much as he is.
In the late 80s to even today, this story is a common one. All the time we hear, read or watch news about people who are or who have been to rehab, celebrities especially and this film just goes into depth about one man’s struggle through many of the same demon thousands of people suffer with everyday.
Although the story is pretty apparent from the title, this is still a film that is worth a viewing, if not for the message that there is always someone there to help then for the superb performance by Keaton. Enjoy.